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General News of Wednesday, 20 July 2005

Source: Ghanaian Chronicle

Prof Akumfi Warns Corrupt Staff

The Minister of Ports, Harbours and Railways, Prof Christopher Ameyaw-Akumfi has stated with emphasis that, he would not tolerate any licentious behaviour from any of the working personnel under his ministry that would continue to taint the already fragile image of the sector.

He cautioned all the corrupt workers who were not ready to be transformed or operate within the confines of the laws and regulations governing the sector to leave their offices before they were tracked by the law.

The Minister warned the shippers who preferred paying illegitimate levies to reduce the legal ones at the ports also to desist from such illegal acts or face punishment.

Speaking at the inauguration of the Northern Regional Shipper Committee of the Ghana Shipper Council in Tamale, Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi revealed that, plans were far advanced to collaborate with all the other ministries involved in port operations; Finance and Economic Planning, Trade and Industries, Interior and Harbours and Railways to form inter-ministerial coordinating groups to address the bottlenecks in the sector with cooperation from service providers.

Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi who regretted the abhorrent shortcomings and other distasteful complains against the Ghana Ports and Harbours, said "the structure of long room" would be redesigned to reduce direct interaction between CEPS officials and shippers or their agents.

He reiterated that, the Ministry would extend the remote monitoring system, which has recently been installed to cover all the corners of the harbours and container terminals.

On the problem of the regular and unacceptable diversion of goods, Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi stressed that, the installation of a tracking system for transit traffic was seriously under consideration to help the ministry eliminate diversions.

He emphasized that, the Ghana Maritime Authority has now been put in place with legislative powers to regulate the provision of services at the harbours.

Warning shippers who preferred paying illegal levies to reduce the legal ones to change their illegal ways, the Minister was of the belief that, all the malpractices at the harbours could not occur without the active participation of the shippers.

Commenting on the Ghana Railway Expansion Project, the Professor disclosed that the government and its development partners had allotted $1 billion to the project to enhance business transaction in the country.

He contended that the project was on the waiting list of the African Development Bank (ADB) to receive an additional $500 million to expand the railway system from Paga in the Upper West Region to Burkina Faso.

Prof Ameyaw-Akumfi was optimistic that the protracted transportation problems facing the country and its business associates would drastically reduce, should the railway system be revamped.

The Minister however charged the members of the Northern Region Shipper Committee to leave no stone unturned but work assiduously to identify all the transportation problems confronting the region for effectual redress.

The Deputy Northern Regional Minister, Mohammed Adam Amin Anta outlined the benefits the government would gain from the region should the railway expansion project be completed.

According to him, the Northern Region was undeniably the food basket of the country and centre of quality natural resources, but because of the bad nature of the roads in the region, the poor farmers found it very difficult transporting their produce to the urban centres.

This canker, the Minister noted, was contributing to the abject poverty of the area.

Mr. Anta however pledged the full support of the Northern Regional Coordinating Council to the Northern Region Shipper Committee to enhance their activities. There were solidarity messages from all the sister committees; the Greater Accra Shipper Committee, the Western Regional Shipper Committee, the Brong Ahafo Shipper Committee and the Ashanti Regional Shipper Committee.

The Northern Regional Shipper Committee is the fifth after the inauguration of the Brong Ahafo Shipper Committee. The Upper East and West Shipper Committees are yet to be inaugurated.